Suspected al Qaeda leader among nine dead in Yemen clashes

Al Qaeda militants in an off-road vehicle attacked a foreign-run oilfield in Yemen sparking clashes in which six soldiers and three jihadists, one of them a top commander died, officials said Monday.

Last Updated: Jul 26, 2010, 20:29 PM IST

Sanaa: Al Qaeda militants in an off-road vehicle attacked a foreign-run oilfield in Yemen sparking clashes in which six soldiers and three jihadists, one of them a top commander died, officials said Monday.

"Three al Qaeda members, one of them a top leader,
were killed" in the exchanges with troops guarding the
oilfield in Shabwa province, east of the capital, yesterday, a
security official said to a news agency.

The attackers opened fire with machine guns and
rockets at the soldiers who were posted near the foreign oil
company`s operations, a provincial official said.

The militants struck in Al-Aqla district, 45
kilometres (30 miles) east of the provincial capital Ataq.

The area produces between 10,000 and 15,000 barrels of
crude a day, provincial official Abdel Mohsen Ben Saad said to a news agency.

A security official identified the suspected al Qaeda
commander as Zayed al-Daghari, believed to have been a key
figure in the jihadists` operations in Shabwa.

Provincial security chief General Ahmed al-Maqdashi
told the defence ministry`s 26sep.net news website that the
militants who carried out yesterday`s attacks were believed to
have been behind a night-time ambush which killed five
soldiers and wounded one in Ataq on Thursday.

Shabwa and adjacent Abyan province have become major
fields of operations for al Qaeda as the central government
struggles to impose its control on the region`s heavily armed
tribes.

The province is the base of the Al-Awalaq tribe of
radical Yemeni American preacher Anwa al-Awlaqi, who is wanted
by both US and Yemeni authorities.

Awlaqi has been accused of ties to al Qaeda`s Yemeni
branch.

The ancestral homeland of al Qaeda leader Osama bin
Laden, Yemen has seen repeated attacks claimed by the
jihadists on foreign missions, tourist sites and oil
facilities.

On Friday, al Qaeda claimed twin attacks on security
and intelligence headquarters in the south Yemen town of
Zinjibar on July 14 in which three policemen were killed, in
an Internet statement.

The group`s Yemen branch, al Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula (AQAP), said that the attack was to avenge the
deaths of the "emir of the mujahedeen" in Abyan province,
Jamil al-Ambari, and fellow jihadist Samir al-Sanaani.

The two were among three al Qaeda fighters Yemeni
officials said were killed in an air raid in Abyan`s Moudia
district on March 14.

PTI